When and why go?
Trips from the States to visit HOW School in Haiti are offered two times during the year. Both the Executive Director of HOW Ministries and the Director of HOW School work together, along with other HOW School staff to plan and coordinate logistics.
The winter trip focuses on the months of January/February with a priority to avoid Carnival time (the airport and traffic is crazier than usual). During this trip, school is in session and so the goal is to observe classes, the Lunch Program, conference with the teachers and give them appreciation, participate and interact with the children in various ways. Sometimes there will be lesson sharing, demonstrations of materials/supplies, beautification to the property, building or basic carpentry or other such projects.
The summer trip is generally July/August and is a week-long camp, not unlike a VBS. Open to HOW students and children from a neighboring church in a nearby community, these children have stayed at the schoolhouse overnight and for the duration of our trip. This is a precious time of friendships forming and strengthening, the sharing of the gospel, Bible verses, songs, crafts, games, and other activities that create sweet memories and foster a sense of belonging to the family of God, growing in Christlike love for one another.
“Therefore go…” Matthew 28:19
Who will be there?
The winter mission trip provides opportunity to visit during the school days. For the 2013-2014 academic year, 185 students are enrolled and there are 15 members on staff. During the summer trip, about 40 children participate in the camp. Whenever there are visitors from the States, several awesome, awesome people serve as interpreters, cooks, transportation guides, and help to provide security.
What language is spoken?
Haitian Creole is the official language of Haiti. French is considered an official language as well, but only those who are educated are fluent. Few are able to understand English but many are making an effort to learn. At HOW School, lessons are taught using both French and Creole, and there are English classes.
What about transportation?
For traveling to and from the airport, we will have a truck and an SUV. These will be available to us for getting around where we need to go during our stay in Haiti. If desired, one may hire a moto bike for a very reasonable rate and a memorable ride!
Where will we stay?
Heart of Worship School has about 10 main rooms or areas, with an additional library currently undergoing construction. Two rooms are generally converted into sleeping rooms throughout our stay, with one common area for group meetings. In Haiti, they are very much grateful for our visits and are gracious hosts, always willing to accommodate with flexibility.
The vibe is indoor primitive camping. Tents are brought and then set up in the rooms for added privacy and warmth during the chilly nights. Air mattresses or rafts, sleeping bags and even blankets may be brought to offer cozy comfort.
Is it safe?
This question, when considering Haiti, is always a debatable one—just as if the same question were asked about certain areas of the United States. Obviously, some places are safer than others and nothing can be 100% guaranteed. Personally and thankfully, I have never had a negative experience in the eight times traveling to the country. All of my visits have been to and around Kenscoff and Petionville, which do tend to be known as the safer towns. With Viard even further out and relatively remote, I feel confident leading teams there. Consider as well we have amazing guides who will do everything possible to ensure our safety.
“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” Hudson Taylor
Common sense precautions are wise, of course – all your things of value should be kept inside your tents or in your bags. Locks on tent zippers are recommended. Some belongings in the past have been known to grow legs and wander off so you do want to keep track of your stuff.
We also strongly caution against going outside after dark. The porch is well lit but generally we congregate in the main areas of the school during the evening hours.
What’s the deal concerning water?
Bottled water is included in the additional cost for the trip and will be provided throughout our stay. ***Drink ONLY bottled water*** Use it even to brush your teeth (or get the disposable Scope travel toothbrushes).
For washing, we will have water heated on the stove in a pan and cold water in a bucket. Please bring at least one towel and one washcloth.
There is a cistern at the school which collects rainwater and rain is a blessing.
***Water MUST be treated as the valuable resource it is***
What’s the deal concerning food?
Breakfast and Dinner will be included in your cost and provided. Two cooks will prepare the meals – these are dear, sweet ladies who work very hard to please choosy Americans!
Recommended food to bring: oatmeal, granola/snack bars, cheese and cracker packets, tuna, anything snacky and non-perishable. Think primitive camping.
…the bathroom situation?
At HOW School, there are two toilets—one upstairs and one down. To flush, a 5-gallon bucket of water will be beside each. Water must be poured into the bowl and they will flush.
Bring 2 rolls of TP and/or wet wipes. Hand sanitizer is highly recommended.
Currently, plumbing pipes are not connected and there is no running water. There are shower stalls, and water will be placed in buckets and pans for washing. Bring at least one hand towel and/or washcloth, and a bath towel if desired.
What to wear?
Because Viard is something like 4000 ft. high in the mountains, be prepared to feel chilly in the evenings and early mornings. Long sleeves and/or a jacket are highly recommended.
Jeans, shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, skirts—plan to wear whatever is comfortable. Girls, please no short shorts and be conservative with your tops. Flip flops are okay but be sure to also have tennis shoes. Haiti is known for its rugged and steep terrain, especially where we will be. Keep jewelry to the bare minimum if any at all so as not to attract unwanted attention.
For church, think dressy casual. Many men wear ties, and jeans are discouraged. Ladies, be wise when choosing your shoes. Several women wear tennis shoes for walking and carry the Sunday shoes in a bag to switch at church.
What does the trip cost?
In addition to airfare, $800 per person is requested to help cover the costs of transportation and gas, water/food, and various expenses incurred by our hosts while we are guests.
What are the health requirements?
Of course it is wise to check with your health provider to ascertain all your vaccinations are up to date. Concerning travel to Haiti, both Hep A and Hep B as well as a Tetanus shot are highly recommended.
Because our destination is in the mountains, malaria is less of a threat as it appears to be around other areas of the island. However, malaria meds are entirely the decision of the traveler and should be taken if there is any concern.
To see other information posted by the CDC regarding travel to Haiti, visit this link
What happens if there is an emergency?
The safety of our teams is of the most extreme importance to both Heart of Worship Ministries and those hosting us at Heart of Worship School. Every precaution will be taken to do the best we can in preventing any unfortunate occurrence.
However, if a medical situation arises, the nearest town of Kenscoff is home to the Baptist Mission Hospital and is approximately 4 miles from the school. While in the country, we have constant access to a vehicle which is checked to be in the best possible condition before we arrive.
The Heart of Worship schoolhouse has withstood intense inclement weather and at least one incredible natural disaster. It is a strong, sturdy, and secure building which serves as a protection against circumstances of wild weather or other such threats.
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
Prayer for each trip is the very first step in planning.
For those we go to serve to see us as an extension of God’s love; for us to receive whatever blessings are meant for us to experience in the fullest; for each person traveling and for each person we encounter, to feel the Holy Spirit in very real and beautiful ways during the trip. We trust in His infinite wisdom and perfect timing to make it happen as it should!!